Bukit Brown photo exhibition from 1 Oct – Bukit Brown: Spaces for the Living

Bukit Brown: Spaces for the Living is a photo exhibit organized by a collective of 7 photographers from diverse backgrounds. This photographic collective has united through their love of an art form, to showcase the splendor of one Singapore’s oldest and historically rich treasures through a photographic tapestry – All to foster a richer appreciation of the legacy of Bukit Brown before its heritage trail is cleared to make way for urban redevelopment.

The photo exhibit will open on Monday October 1st 2012 and will run at The Arts House’s Print gallery until the 7th of October 2012. The upcoming platform will feature works by photographers Shawn Danker, James Wong, Chee Wei Teck, Simin Wang, Wayne Ho, Zann Huang and Siraj Hanifa. The exhibit display aims to highlight the intertwining the three themes of nature, heritage and spiritualism that reside at the core of Bukit Brown through the visual medium of photography.

The visual exhibit will also contain informative captions that weave the experience into a tapestry of knowledge about the hallowed grounds that act as the final resting place of some of Singapore’s greatest pioneers. The show aims to attract and engage the Singaporean people by providing them with an artistic and visual means to reconnect with their sense of nature, history and spirituality through a photographer’s lens.

Speakers Raymond Goh of Asian Paranormal Investigators (API) and Nature Society Singapore (NSS) representative Tan Hang Chong, will be present at the show’s opening night reception on Monday, October 1st 2012 at 7p.m. Both speakers will be on hand to regale guests on the stories behind the exhibit’s contents.

“This exhibit is meant to be a work of love and a community effort to present our people (Singaporeans) with a unique perspective on a place that many of us have taken for granted. I am always struck by the raw beauty and history of Bukit Brown whenever I walk its grounds. These photos are a means for me to share with people what my eyes see when I look at the place.” Said Shawn Danker, photographer age 34.

“A Symphony of sounds: from the lyrical musings of birds, to the gentle rustle of tree leaves as an army of monkeys leap through the ancient tree canopy, to the swarms buzzing across the green landscape busy with their routines. These sounds routinely evoke imagery that is associated with a tropical forest or jungle, but not in places like cemeteries. Combine the lush natural ambience together with artwork from a by gone era and you get a distinctive gestalt that offers the intrepid adventurer a fest for the senses. Bukit Brown is like Doyle’s Lost World; it offers explorers a chance to escape into our history while always allowing us to remain tethered to the hustle and bustle of present day Singapore. It is this sense of escapism that personally prompted me to take up this photographic project to bring Bukit Brown’s unique blend of culture, nature and untold history to the masses, before the place disappears with finality back into the mists of history.” James Wong, photographer, age 30.

“I think ultimately it is about respecting the elders of our past regardless of their age or when they passed away. In many ways they could be called the true pioneers of Singapore. Now that I have chosen Singapore as my home, I feel strongly about knowing and acknowledging the history of Singapore. Only then will I be able to show my kids the present and future Singapore. The Bukit Brown Cemetery is an ideal place to start that journey of getting to know Singapore.” Sri Lankan born businessman and photographer Siraj Hanifa, age 39.

“In this ever-changing cityscape of Singapore, I am very interested in topics that reflect my generation which are event or location based. Photography is my medium to show people the unseen side of Singapore and also to archive current situation we are in, for the future generation to see. When I go to Bukit Brown, I am interested in what the people of now are using this space for – recreational, sport or paying respect to the dead. It amazes me. Some people ask me about why I went to Bukit Brown cemetery at night, asking if I was scared…etc. I always approach the subject & topic of my projects with respect and focus on trying to tell the story and preserve the images for future generations.” Chee Wei Teck, Photographer & Part-Time Art Writer, age 30

“I never took notice of places in Singapore until they started disappearing. This time however, I decided to discover and experience Bukit Brown Cemetery before parts of it are transformed into extensive roads and modern houses. So I hopped on board for this project when the opportunity arose. Learning about the cemetery grounds was truly rewarding. Apart from the mosquitoes and fierce dogs that left their marks on us, I found out how our cosmopolitan roots came about and how much our tiny city-state can offer to the world of plants and animals. Even if some places are no longer there in the future, I can always look to my photographs and share the stories with people who want to understand Singapore.” Simin Wang, avid photographer age 23

“After being in Singapore for more than seven years, the impression for me is that Singapore is full of high rise buildings from HDBs to office towers. An initial exploration of Bukit Brown changed my perspective: there’s still huge part of greenery that exists in Singapore that brings me closer to the nature; to experience nature with my full sensory perceptions without experiencing the overstimulation and automation of the city. This project represented an aside for me to learn about early Singapore. This entire experience in Bukit Brown has been for me an interactive history lesson! My repeated visits to Bukit Brown have raised the question: Is a cemetery an eerie place? You will find the answer through my lens.” Wayne Ho, Executive recruitment consultant and freelance photographer, age 27.

“As a freelance photojournalist who has spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East, documenting issues which are alien to my own culture, I have to admit that I have not directed my lens to issues at home as much. I felt an obligation to explore Singapore in the wake of her rapid transition over the last 5 years. When I learnt that plans for development at the Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC) was imminent, I made my way there for the first time and it felt akin to stepping into a different era altogether. It is not only a sanctuary in a city but more importantly, it is the ‘umbilical cord’ that binds us to our heritage. The BBC is not any ordinary cemetery-it is a living museum.” Zann Huizhen Huang, Freelance photojournalist, 36

“Many who have not step foot in Bukit Brown think of it as merely a cemetery. But beyond this cemetery of tombstones and bones, lies something very much greater than what is seen. What lies beneath, is beyond the description of mere words, for how can mere words ever suffice to capture fully and vividly the kaleidoscope of history, heritage, and culture of a young nation and its collective memories as it went through a dynamic century of constant change and metamorphosis. Set in a natural tranquil forest, punctuated by the sounds and sights of nature, it takes the talented skills of these photographers to capture these precious and insightful images for those who have not been there, to let them be aware that there exists an uniquely Singaporean habitat that is facing an uncertain future, part of which may be irreplaceably gone in the next few months.” Raymond Goh, cofounder of Asian Paranormal Investigators, age 48.

“Bukit Brown is unique in that it marries both Singapore’s natural and cultural heritage. More than just a resting place for many of Singapore’s pioneers, Bukit Brown Cemetery provides key ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, flood prevention, natural air-conditioning and a habitat for threatened species. Visitors to Bukit Brown never fail to be touched by the beauty of the place, as if those resting in peace there are gently embraced by the living- the wildlife. Shawn, Siraj, James, Weiteck, Simin, Wayne and Zann have artfully captured the residents of Bukit Brown in this exhibition and we hope it will encourage even more people to appreciate this treasured place.” Agnes Sng, Executive Officer, Nature Society (Singapore).

About Bukit Brown: Spaces for the Living 
Bukit Brown: Spaces for the living is a photo exhibit organized by a collective of 7 photographers from diverse backgrounds. This photographic collective has united through their love of an art form, to showcase the splendor of one Singapore’s oldest and historically rich treasures through a photographic tapestry – All to foster a richer appreciation of the legacy of Bukit Brown before its heritage trail is cleared to make way for urban redevelopment. More information about Bukit Brown: Spaces for the Living can be found at http://www.facebook.com/events/224239554369746. This show is made possible through the generosity of the Arts House and the National Youth Council. Bukit Brown Spaces for the Living runs from October 1st 2012 – October 7th 2012.

Note: After the opening reception at 7.p.m on October 1st 2012, the show will run during the normal opening hours at the Arts House which are10 am to 10 pm. The show will close on Sunday October 7th at 8pm.

Photo taken from James Wong


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